The Color of Science

Isabell_HP_update

Isabelle Malouf was so into science she wore it to prom. The gown that she made with organza and sequins had a bubble-type skirt that resembled a bacteriophage. A dress and a virus, it was part of the Daring Night Attire – or DNA – collection she created for a high school design class. “It was fun taking something like that and making it pretty,” said Malouf, a University of Mary Washington senior. “A lot of molecular biology stuff is gorgeous.” These days, rather than fashion, she channels her passion for science into zebrafish. Through them, she’s studying an herbicide that’s been linked to cancer. Her research, along with her hair color – she changes it weekly –make Malouf a standout on campus. And, as a face in UMW’s new branded photos, she hopes to make science seem more accessible, especially for women. “Girls aren’t expected to be good at science,” said Malouf, a biology major with a chemistry minor. Growing up in Boston, she learned to expect the unexpected, … [Read more...]

Up Close and Personal

Katie Wilson with sea lion[2]_HP

  Charlie Reed surveyed the marine life surrounding him as he snorkeled off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. Suddenly, two black, glassy eyes gazed back at him. He stared face-to-face at a 200-pound female sea lion. “At first, it was a little scary,” the University of Mary Washington senior said. “Then you realize they are just trying to play.” The Galapagos Islands, the site of a UMW faculty-led Spring Break trip, are known for their biological diversity – and for wildlife that haven’t been conditioned to be afraid of humans. Reed and his 23 fellow UMW students experienced that firsthand during their nine-day trip, a joint effort by Andrew Dolby, professor of biology, and Melanie Szulczewski, assistant professor of environmental science. The trip was one of five faculty-led study abroad experiences over Spring Break, including in Quebec, Guatemala, Austria and India. “What makes this course unique is that it is holistic,” Dolby said. Students will receive … [Read more...]

Cultivating Collaboration

Maggie_featured

When University of Mary Washington students return from spring break to settle back into their semester, freshman Maggie Magliato’s project will just be beginning. With gardening shears in hand, she will begin the process of removing invasive ivy throughout campus by clipping the ivy into sections, rolling it up to remove it, carefully digging up the roots and finally, pulling it off the trees to be composted. She will work quickly but carefully, mindful of the birds’ nests and trees nearby. “It’s more of an adventure to me than just a school project and I feel like I am making an impact on campus, even as a freshman,” she said. Magliato, who plans to major in environmental science, is one of 16 members of the Greenhouse, a living-learning community focused on sustainable living. In completing her capstone project as part of the community, Magliato will remove a plant that hinders native plant growth, deteriorates buildings on campus and keeps new plants from … [Read more...]

Lift Off

STEM_HP

Olivia Schiermeyer led fifth graders in a countdown as she manned a miniature rocket launcher at the “3…2…1 Lift Off” station. Several covered their ears in anticipation of the blast. … [Read more...]

In Search of Turtles

Senior Bryan Finch measures a turtle he found near the Fredericksburg Canal.

An uncommon turtle discovery has sparked detective work between a University of Mary Washington professor and his students that will help shed light on the species in the Fredericksburg region. More than two years ago, Professor of Biology Werner Wieland asked students in one of his classes to bring in a local animal. Much to Wieland’s surprise, one student brought in a species of turtle – a yellow-bellied slider – that is not known to occur in the Fredericksburg area. The find brought up questions for Wieland— was this turtle an isolated case or is there a bigger population established? With the help of seniors Yoshi Takeda and Bryan Finch, Wieland has spent the last two summers finding out. Wieland’s project is one of dozens funded through UMW’s Summer Science Institute, a 10-week undergraduate research program started in 1999. The students and professors will present their work at an all-day symposium on Wednesday, July 24. This summer, Wieland and his students … [Read more...]

Culturing Independent Inquiry

Bio Research_gm

In the tissue culture lab in the University of Mary Washington’s Jepson Hall, Chloe Fusselman donned a white lab coat, put on gloves and carefully picked up a beaker of liquid. She was practicing her sterile lab techniques with her adviser, Professor of Biology Deborah O’Dell, since the methods are critical to her research project this semester. Fusselman and fellow senior biology major Kara Arbogast are both researching the chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA, in separate projects. Both students received undergraduate research grants from UMW for their work. Fusselman’s project looks at the effect of BPA, a chemical found in many everyday household products, on healthy prostate cells. BPA, O’Dell explained, mimics the hormone estrogen and is frequently linked to breast cancer. “In the literature, there are some references that BPA could be linked to prostate cancer, too,” O’Dell said. Research like Fusselman’s will help scientists find out. As Fusselman developed her … [Read more...]

Seeking Feathered Friends

Andrew Dolby 4

For Andrew Dolby, a stressed-out bird is a big deal. Dolby, professor and chair of the biology department, is researching the stress response in birds, specifically, the Tufted Titmouse. During the spring semester he worked with three students to catch birds on UMW property and at sites in southern Stafford County. They took their measurements and vital signs and collected small blood samples for fellow biology professor Deborah O’Dell to perform heat shock protein analysis in the Jepson Hall labs. Heat shock proteins, similar in function to stress hormones, are indicators of chronic stress. Sources of chronic stress for a bird might be habitat deterioration, parasitism, or long-term food shortages.  Dolby and O’Dell received a grant from the Virginia Society of Ornithology for the unique project. “Only two other laboratories in North America are using heat shock proteins to study stress in free-ranging birds,” Dolby said. Since the proteins are found in almost every organism, … [Read more...]